One of the greatest challenges facing today’s Defence industry is keeping up with the rapid pace of change. With the increasing cost of platform acquisition and squeezed defence spending, the MOD can often no longer afford to be at the forefront of research and development in many areas, with their budgets dwarfed by those in the technology industries.
The pace of technological change has also dramatically increased, leaving project teams struggling to keep up with the demands for cutting edge technologies from front line commands, whilst adhering to traditional requirements definition and acquisition processes.
In 2015 is was identified that to ensure the British Armed Forces still have access to the best capabilities the MOD must improve its access to innovative ideas developed by SMEs, and must find ways of streamlining its acquisition; essentially a rebalancing of the Industry/MOD relationship in a secure environment.
Joint Force Command’s Information Systems and Services (ISS) identified Kahootz as their chosen secure collaboration provider, adopting a system that had been proven and certified for use in other security conscious government departments. The system became known as Defence Share, and following certification by Defence Assurance and Information Security (DAIS) the service was accredited for use up to OFFICIAL SENSITIVE (OS). This certification was a key enabler for use within Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), removing the need for the encrypted disks and couriers that had previously been used for the transfer of sensitive information. Defence Share remains the only system of its type to achieve this certification in this context.
Following the roll out across the defence community, now with users across DE&S, ISS, DIO and the Front Line Commands, the system is now giving SMEs direct access to delivery teams, allowing better informed purchasing decisions to be made and reducing the risk of cost escalation and delays.
One well known example of this is the SKYNET 6 information sharing environment, used by the ISS Delivery Team to conduct premarket engagement with a broad range of companies and recently described by one industry user at the ISS Engagement day held by techUK as “the gold standard in industry engagement”.
A second order benefit for the MOD that hadn’t been anticipated was the creation of ‘Corporate Knowledge”. At a time when an increasing amount of staff are no longer permanent and with a move towards complimenting teams with secondees, agency staff and contractors, the risks of knowledge leakage become more apparent. Defence Share allows all users to see the context and reasons behind decisions made by their predecessors and delivers the full trail that will enable new team members to enter the process with the background understanding required.
Outside of the MOD, the same system has been adopted by Team Defence Information and has been shown as an example of how new ways of working can enable a more flexible workforce, offering the ability to work on mobile devices or with your own device, removing the anchor to a secure desktop or laptop. It has also moved conversations away from email exchanges into contextual discussions and forums, allowing better stakeholder engagement and ultimately allowing programmes to deliver faster.
The success of Defence Share within the MOD and Team Defence environment has not gone un-noticed by the wider Defence community, with more and more defence prime contractors adopting the service to improve their engagement with their supply chain and industrial and academic partners. Kahootz now boasts thousands users across the defence network and was also recently selected by Babcock as one of their Innovation Partners at the Underwater Defence Technology Exhibition; along with winning the GDS 2017 Award for Best Cloud Based Collaboration Tool.